PHOTO IN THE NEWS: “Extinct” Primate Found in Indonesia

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It may look like a gremlin, but this tiny animal is actually a pygmy tarsier, recently rediscovered in the forests of Indonesia.

The 2-ounce (57-gram) carnivorous primate had not been seen alive since the 1920s.

That was until researchers on a summer expedition captured, tagged, and released three members of the species (including this individual, above).

“Everyone’s always talking about pygmy tarsiers,” said lead researcher Sharon Gursky-Doyen, a professor at Texas A&M University.

“There have been dozens of expeditions looking for them—all unsuccessful. I needed to go and try to see for myself if they were really there or if they were really extinct,” added Gursky-Doyen, whose research was funded in part by the National Geographic Society’s Conservation Trust.

Once relatively abundant among the mossy, forested mountain slopes of Lore Lindu National Park in central Sulawesi, the pygmy tarsier population may have shrunk when logging in the 1970s destroyed its habitat, Gursky-Doyen said.

The nocturnal creatures rely on darkness to avoid predation. However in fragmented forests, the canopy lets in more moonlight, exposing the small animal to birds and other predators as it leaps from tree to tree.

Gursky-Doyen said she hopes the find will inspire the Indonesian government to protect the species and its habitat.

“[The] government needs to figure out a compromise between people and animals living in Lore Lindu.”

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